Smashing Pumpkins’ second album, Siamese Dream, was released on July 27, 1993. The album debuted at number ten on the Billboard 200 chart, and has sold over four million copies in the United States. In November 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Siamese Dream at number 360 on its “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list.
Siamese Dream opens with “Cherub Rock,” which was released as the first single from the album; it peaked at number seven on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart, and at number twenty-three on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The song was also nominated for Best Hard Rock Performance with Vocal at the 1994 Grammy Awards. The lyrics of the song have to do with lead singer and songwriter Billy Corgan’s relationship with how he perceived the indie-rock community, as well as the larger media. Musically, this song represents the sound of the band at that time, and it’s also the perfect opening song for an album. It’s also one of my personal favorite songs from Siamese Dream.
The next song on the album is “Quiet.” Contrary to its title, this is not a quiet song; it’s actually a very upbeat and hard song. Sonically, it segues perfectly from “Cherub Rock.” This is followed by “Today,” which was released as the second single from Siamese Dream; the song peaked at number four on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart and at number twenty-eight on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It has an upbeat sound, but this is contrasted with the dark tone of the lyrics. Billy Corgan has stated that he wrote “Today” at a time when he was having suicidal thoughts. The song also has a very memorable music video, which features Billy Corgan as a disgruntled ice cream man. “Today” is another one of my personal favorite songs from Siamese Dream.
“Hummer” starts with sounding like someone trying to tune a radio, but only getting static. The music starts to build, until it finally becomes a midtempo song. This is followed by “Rocket,” which was released as the fourth and final single from Siamese Dream. It’s another midtempo song, and a song that I enjoy from the album.
“Disarm” was released as the third single from the album; it peaked at number five on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and at number eight on the Billboard modern rock tracks. The song also had some airplay on CHR/Top 40 stations in 1994, and it was enough to make it into the lower regions of the Radio & Records CHR/Top 40 airplay chart. “Disarm” is a slow song, which Billy Corgan has said is about the shaky relationship that he had with his parents while he was growing up. This is another one of my personal favorites from Siamese Dream. This is followed by “Soma,” which was co-written by Billy Corgan and James Iha; it also features a piano part played by Mike Mills from R.E.M. It’s a ballad, with lyrics talking about how being in a love relationship is similar to how opium soothes someone.
The next song is “Geek U.S.A.,” and it’s a very rocking and upbeat track that picks the pace of the album back up. Guitar World ranked this song at number fifty-four on a list of 100 greatest guitar solos of all time. “Mayonaise” is another song on the album that was co-written by Billy Corgan and James Iha. It’s a slower song, and it features feedback from a guitar that sounds like a whistling sound. This is another song on Siamese Dream that I enjoy.
“Spaceboy” is an acoustic song that features an acoustic guitar, strings, and some minimal percussion. While it sounds a bit different from many of the other songs on the album, it doesn’t stand out too much. This is followed by “Silverf***.” This clocks in at eight minutes and forty-three seconds, which makes it the longest song on the album. It changes the tone of the album from “Spaceboy,” and also picks the tempo of the album back up.
“Sweet Sweet” is the shortest song on the album, clocking in at one minute and thirty-eight seconds. It’s another acoustic track, featuring Billy Corgan on vocals being accompanied by an acoustic guitar and minimal additional instrumentation. Siamese Dream closes with “Luna,” which is another slower song. Sonically, it’s a perfect song to close an album with.
When I listen to Siamese Dream, I can hear that the band had developed as artists since recording and releasing their first album, Gish. The arrangements on this album are tighter, more chances were taken with the sound of the material, and the songwriting was also a little stronger. While some of this can be attributed to producer Butch Vig, I can also believe that some of the credit also needs to go to the band. Siamese Dream would probably be the album you would want to start someone out with if they’re not already familiar with the band; while Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness is a good album, there is a lot to digest for someone who doesn’t already have some familiarity with Smashing Pumpkins.